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Lejeune battalion celebrates deployment's halfway mark

15 Jun 2004 | Cpl. Shawn C. Rhodes

It was more than 100 degrees outside June 15.  The wind blowing in didn't do anything but move the heat from one place to another.  Still, conditions were perfect for Marines of 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment to do a little celebrating. 

The battalion's Marines, deployed with the 1st Marine Division to Iraq from Camp Lejeune, N.C., marked the halfway point of deployment here, a projected seven-month tour. 

The battalion organized a day of fun and relaxation to celebrate the occasion.  It involved sports games for the Marines to enjoy such as volleyball, basketball and horseshoes.  Music played from a large speaker mounted on a humvee and a game of basketball and volleyball were going on simultaneously.  For lunch and dinner, even the platoons in the field were treated to grilled hamburgers and hot dogs.  The evening meal was grilled steak - a rare treat for the Marines here.

"We put this together to acknowledge all the effort the Marines have been putting forth so far, to thank them for a job well done," said Gunnery Sgt. John J. Schidlmeier, the battalion's logistics chief from Mobile, Ala. "It took a lot of effort from a lot of people to make it all happen.  We're doing it to let the junior Marines know they're appreciated."

The festivities kicked off at noon with a lunch fit for any barbecue, with sporting events going on outside the chow hall.  The loudspeakers from a psychological operations vehicle, normally used to broadcast pro-Coalition messages in Arabic, were used to blast the latest radio hits for the Marines.

For dinner, more than 1,100 steaks were brought into the camp and grilled for the Marines.

"It was just like any backyard barbecue you'd see in the states," said Cpl. Derek W. Morland, a 22-year-old cook from Birmingham, Ala.  "We have Martha Stewart-style secrets to making steaks, so they were really well received by the battalion."

The Marines enjoyed the festivities and the time off.

"I'm not used to playing volleyball in cammies and boots, but I had a good time," said Cpl. Yowseph G. Tirfe, a 25-year-old administration clerk from Dallas.  "It was great to have a break from the long working hours to enjoy ourselves."